BLUES ON SONG AS THEY EXTEND TITLE LEAD
Linfield laid down a marker to their Danske Bank Premiership title rivals in front of the BBC cameras, with a resounding victory over Crusaders on Friday evening.
It was reigning champions who stunned the visitors with the opening goal after just two minutes after Crusaders failed to clear a corner, Kirk Millar whipped the ball into Jimmy Callacher to head his side in front.
The early goal proved to be the high point of a feisty first half that was devoid of many clear cut chances in blustery conditions.
On 40 minutes, Rodney Brown produced Crusaders’ best chance of the half when he rose highest to Jordan Owen’s knock-down to power a header which was tipped over the crossbar by Rohan Ferguson to safety.
It was David Healy’s team that came out of the blocks quickly in the second, much like the first, as scintillating play from Cooper down the left flank teed up Waterworth who scuffed the first opportunity but slack defending from Crusaders allowed the striker to pounce on the loose ball the hammer into the top corner on 49 minutes.
Callacher scored his second of the game on 64 minutes when he rose highest to thunder home Millar’s corner and put Linfield 3-0 ahead.
Crusaders’ night was compounded when they were reduced to ten men with three minutes remaining as defender Howard Beverland was dismissed for a second yellow card after pulling back substitute Shayne Lavery.
Linfield capped off a stunning display with a fourth goal with the final play of the game, Joel Cooper threaded a superb pass to Stephen Fallon who coolly placed his shot past Gerard Doherty.
Linfield: Ferguson, Haughey, Callacher, Waterworth, Cooper, Stewart, Millar, Fallon, Mulgrew, Quinn, Casement subs Moore (not used), Stafford (not used), Lavery (replaced Stewart 76), Clarke (not used), Kearns (replaced MIllar 84), Hery (not used), Currie (replaced Waterworth 88)
Crusaders: Doherty, Beverland, Lowry, McGonigle, Caddell, O’Rourke, Owens, Brown, Thompson, Heatley, Dummigan subs O’Neill (not used), Hegarty (not used), Hale (replaced Owens 76), Cushley (not used), Forsythe (replaced Lowry 46), McGinley (replaced Caddell 57), McElroy (not used)